The Mennonite Church USA Executive Board provided direction and feedback during its Feb. 3-4 meeting for a special delegate assembly in May focused on the denomination’s Membership Guidelines.
An MC USA release stated attention was given to the need for clear rules of order during the assembly, when two resolutions to eliminate rules that prohibit pastors from performing same-sex marriage ceremonies will go to delegates for consideration.
Other discussion topics included the use of facilitators for discussions and onsite pastoral care for delegates.
Jon Carlson, moderator-elect and chair of the resolutions committee, said the committee is evaluating the resolutions process and considering ways to strengthen it.
“The delegate assembly in May will give us some insight into how these processes are functioning,” Carlson said. “We’re starting to think and dream about this. We have been looking at what other Christian traditions do. We’re trying to cast a wide net.”
It is possible there may be a new resolution process to propose to delegates in 2023.
Executive director Glen Guyton reported staff are analyzing a 2021 denominational survey, which will be shared this spring. He said climate justice continues to be a key concern for many, especially younger members.
Other goals for 2022 include developing sustainable funding models, reviewing the resolution process, working with Mennonite Education Agency and MC USA colleges and universities to identify and promote church leadership educational opportunities, and peace and justice initiatives.
Associate executive director Iris de León-Hartshorn previewed upcoming staff changes.
“Director of racial/ethnic engagement” is a new position that will work with racial/ethnic entities within MC USA, support program agencies and help denominational leaders define diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Sue Park-Hur, the current denominational minister of transformative peacemaking, has accepted this role.
Park-Hur’s former role will become “denominational minister for peace and justice,” a liaison for initiatives throughout MC USA, including antiracism, immigration and militarism. The position has some overlap with activities of the Peace and Justice Support Network, which Mennonite Mission Network ended last year.
“We’re trying to complement the work that we do and to resource agencies in a more holistic way,” Guyton said. “For our system to work, the Executive Board staff needs to have more of a coordinating function and to ensure that we are not operating in silos.”
The Board affirmed a staff recommendation to withdraw from its representation on the steering committee of Community Peacemaker Teams, formerly Christian Peacemaker Teams, in response to its “shift from a Christ-centered organization to a more community-based entity,” the news release stated.
The Executive Board offered a blessing to the organization for its continued work. In a Feb. 9 letter to Guyton, CPT staff expressed appreciation for MC USA’s willingness to continue supporting the organization in other ways.
“CPT will always honor its Anabaptist roots while making sure everyone feels welcome in our spaces,” they wrote. “We are grateful for the continuing partnership that has nurtured so many people in the organization. CPT is committed to cultivating our relationship with all congregations, and, of course, with MC USA individual members.”
In other business, Jim Caskey of the Executive Board audit committee said MC USA finished the fiscal year with increased net assets, a strong cash position and a high operating efficiency ratio of 87%.
The next meeting will be held in person May 27 ahead of the special delegate session in Kansas City, Mo.